NICE AND EASY: Can you use a DIRECTV receiver on a really old TV?

Why throw out something that works just fine? If that’s your motto, you probably have an old tube TV lying around. They do die eventually, but it’s very possible that a TV made in the 1990s or even earlier is still perfectly serviceable, that is assuming you want a small, blurry picture and tinny sound. But although I make fun of old TVs, they still work in garages and guest bedrooms where it’s not the quality of the TV, it’s the fact that there is one there at all that’s important.

You may have heard that DIRECTV has stopped activating new standard definition receivers. That’s half-true; they’ve stopped giving SD receivers to new customers, but existing customers can still get one without a problem. Then again, if you have a TV from 1995 you probably have an old satellite receiver from the mid-2000s anyway (receivers made before 2003 will no longer work with DIRECTV.) The only thing you’re missing is some way to connect that receiver to a truly old TV.

Since about 2000, it’s been common to see those friendly RCA jacks on the back of a TV, but they’re less common in low-priced TVs from the ’80s and ’90s. Way back when, a TV had one input, and it was for an antenna. DIRECTV’s D12 receiver still lets you output that way but it’s the last of the breed. All the DIRECTV receivers made since 2006 except for that D12 don’t have an”RF” output. What to do then, if your TV only has an antenna input?

Luckily there’s another piece of old technology that’s going strong. It’s called an RF modulator and its sole purpose in life is to convert from those RCA connectors on the back of a DIRECTV box, a VCR, or any 1990s technology into the RF connection needed for truly senior TVs. It’s old tech for sure, but it works just as well as it always does. A word of warning… not every DIRECTV receiver has those connections anymore. If yours doesn’t, you’ll need this connector as well.

So yes, it’s going to take a little extra cost and it’s going to take a little extra work, but you absolutely can keep that old TV going and enjoy today’s entertainment on it. And then, when it eventually breaks… recycle it responsibly.